Editorial: EBooks & Libraries Should Be Friends

HarperCollins’ announcement of curtailments to ebook licences sold to libraries is at best diasappointing news, at worst it marks the beginning of a publisher driven assault on public libraries in the digital age.

With budgets for libraries already under attack across the world, ebooks seem to hold out hope of reducing budgets, while buying more books and helping readers to move smoothely into the digital age.

More then just threatening one bright spot in libraries budgets, this move endangers the growing support for ebooks among librarians who see them as an excellent way to promote literacy, reading and activities and values that bring immense value to book publishers. After all, many book readers buy books and ebooks from bookstores and online as well as reading library books.

Librarians are not seeking to change the fundamental structure of the industry, as Georgina Byrne puts it they are ‘just [trying to] facilitate customers who are at the front of a new way of reading.’

It would be sad if this move by HarperCollins were to be replicated by other publishers in the coming months and years, sad because it shows a distinct lack of interest in the issues, concerns and value of public libraries and sad because it will mark a closing of the ranks of publishers against the rising tide of ereading and demonstrate that they are in truth neither interested in ebooks OR public libraries.

For the sake of libraries, readers and ultimately for publishers themselves, IPN hopes that no publisher will join HarperCollins in this action and that HarperCollins soon see the error of their ways.

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